Blood lead values around Umicore site in Hoboken dropped further
Today the Provincial Institute of Hygiene (PIH) announced the results of the autumn campaign measuring the lead levels in the blood of children aged 1 to 12 in the vicinity of Umicore’s site in Hoboken.
The average lead levels of the children in the Moretusburg and Hertogvelden neighborhoods dropped to the second lowest level ever recorded: 2.91 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dl) compared to 3.42 µg/dl in the spring of 2021. This means that Umicore is back at the lowest level ever recorded in 2019 (2.89 µg/dl).
"Our site employees and I are pleased to see that blood lead levels of the children living near our plant continue to decline and that all our efforts to reduce emissions are paying off. As a responsible company and committed neighbor, we want to minimize the impact of our site on the neighborhood and the environment," said Johan Ramharter, director of Umicore's Hoboken site. "We remain committed to further improvement and always prioritize investments that further reduce our emissions."
Not only did the average value drop, but the number of children with a blood lead value above 5 µg/dl also continued to decline (13.3% compared to 18.8% in spring 2021). The number of children with a lead value above 10 µg/dl has further decreased from five to four. Unfortunately, one child was found to have a lead level exceeding 20 µg/dl. Zone 1, right next to the site, remains the most vulnerable zone with still about 30% of the children having a blood lead value above 5 µg/dl (compared to 41.5% this spring).
The district worker and the PIH have contacted the families of all tested children and will assist them with advice.
Umicore’s site in Hoboken continues its intensive action plan to further improve. For example, since the beginning of this year, we have been adjusting our logistical activities to the weather conditions. On days with higher wind speeds, we temporarily stop those activities that might release dust. We have intensified spraying and cleaning and we use state-of-the-art technology to monitor and control our emissions. Umicore remains vigilant to introducing measures that could further reduce its emissions and thereby further improve blood lead levels.